In an interview with Us Weekly on November 10, 2023, Napier revealed some of the favorite parenting hacks she uses with her daughters — Helen, 5, and Mae, 2 — while juggling her career as a TV star, New York Times bestselling author, and entrepreneur.
As co-founder of the screen-free Osprey initiative, which stands for “old school parents raising engaged youth,” Napier told the magazine her girls have “never held a phone or a tablet.”
But when she was asked whether her girls had ever watched TV during dinner, the “Home Town” star replied, “You’d be surprised!”
Napier admitted that turning on the TV is actually one of the tools she uses to get her kids to calm down at mealtime. It’s just one of the ways she’s found to preserve her sanity, revealing that she also serves dessert before dinner sometimes and typically waits to wash the dishes till the next morning.
Here’s what you need to know:
Erin Napier Says She Sometimes Turns On the TV at the Start of Dinner to Get Her Kids to Focus
Erin and Ben have said repeatedly that they want their girls to have creative childhoods with lots of time in nature, which is one of the reasons they bought a “country home” on the outskirts of Laurel, Mississippi, where “Home Town” is filmed.
“My playtime consisted of climbing a lot of trees and digging for arrowheads in the woods,” Erin told Southern Living in October 2022. “That’s not something our girls can do in town. I want their bathwater to be dirty at the end of the day, so it means they weren’t just playing on screens.”
A year later, she told Us Weekly that plan is working.
“They’re having a lot of (fun), they’re getting filthy,” Erin said. “They go outside, they play, they dig, they climb trees. That’s where we are.”
Her daughters’ days aren’t completely screen-free, though. Erin said her kids do sometimes FaceTime with grandparents and revealed that she does turn on a TV show if they need to calm down for dinner.
“You’d be surprised,” Erin said. “It actually helps them. Sometimes the only time the TV comes on is when (I need to say), ‘You guys, we need to settle down. We need to sit down,’ and I’ll turn it on for a few minutes while they start eating.”
“And then we turn it off so we can have family dinner and talk,” she continued. “I dunno, something about the TV gets them in one location where I want them to be and quiet. I don’t like for it to be on, but sometimes it’s, like, that bug light that draws them in.”
So what TV shows do they watch? In April, she shared an Instagram post in which they were watching “Downton Abbey” on a rainy day. That same month, she and Ben told Entertainment Weekly that the animated children’s series “Bluey” is a favorite.
“‘Bluey’ is life in our house right now,” she said. “And probably once our kids outgrow it, we’ll still watch it ’cause it’s that good.”
Another favorite is their own series, “Home Town,” for which they just finished filming the seventh season. Erin told Us Weekly that Helen likes to watch it with them, but “only because she wants to stay up late.”
Meanwhile, Erin revealed that another way she gets her kids to focus on dinner is by serving dessert at the same time instead of waiting until the girls have eaten their main meal.
“It happens,” she admitted, shaking her head. “Man, it happens. I’m actually a proponent of giving them dessert with their supper. It sometimes makes them eat it all a little bit better. They’ll get a couple bites of it first, but then they will eat the real food also.”
“It just works for us,” she sighed, and then laughed, “It doesn’t always work for us, though. Sometimes it doesn’t.”
Despite Her Kids’ Screen-Free Days, Erin Napier Says She Scrolls Through Her Phone Before Bed to Wind Down
Erin also shared with Us Weekly some details of how she winds down after her busy days as a mom and TV star. She admitted that that though she won’t let her kids look at any devices, she’s among the millions of Americans who scroll through social media before falling asleep.
According to the Sleep Foundation, nearly 75 percent of social media viewing in the U.S. “occurs before bed.”
“Oh gosh, it’s horrible,” Erin said. “I do it every single night. It’s shameful how long I will scroll, which is why I don’t let my kids have access to it. Because I just, like, waste … I could be having a deep, meaningful conversation with Ben instead. But we all do it, don’t we?”
But one thing Erin doesn’t do before bed is the dishes, admitting that she waits until the next day to put them in the dishwasher.
“Yeah, I do, sure do,” she acknowledged. “They go in the dishwasher in the morning. They get to the sink, they get rinsed, and then I leave them in the sink till tomorrow.”